The October international break has turned into an interesting one for fans of the Italian game, and unfortunately, it has not been interesting for the right reasons, with the betting habits of professional players coming back to the fore.
There are a lot of unknowns surrounding this story so far, but what we do know is that both Aston Villa’s Nicolo Zaniolo and Newcastle United’s Sandro Tonali left the Italian international camp a week ago, after being informed they were involved in an investigation being conducted by Italian prosecutors.
The Italian football federation said at the time.
“Regardless of the nature of the investigative order, given that in this situation the two players are not in the right condition to face the commitments of the coming days, the federation has decided to allow them to return to their respective clubs.”
This news came a day after it had previously been announced that 22 year old Juventus midfielder, Nicolo Fagioli, was said to be under investigation, having been alleged to have used ‘a variety of identities’ to place bets on illegal websites.
23 year old Tonali has reportedly admitted at a hearing that he did, in fact, place bets contrary to the rules, but he has fully co-operated. 24 year old Zaniolo has denied the accusations out right, and is seeking a full acquittal, having admitted to only gambling on online blackjack and poker games.
Fagioli, fronted to the charges levied against him and he has now received a seven month ban, with Juventus stating that he has their ‘full support’ in ‘carrying out the indicated therapeutic plan’. Having admitted his gambling problem, his treatment will last for at least six months and a Juventus statement said.
“The club has noted the official press release from the FIGC and confirms its full support for Nicolo Fagioli in tackling this path. We are firmly convinced that Nicolo, with the support of the club, his team-mates, his family and the professionals who will assist him, will face the therapeutic and training process with a great sense of responsibility and, once the disqualification has been served, will be able to return to competing with due serenity.”
Fans will have to wait and see as to whether or not this is the end of the current investigation, or whether there are further players yet to be publicly named and charged, but it will again open up the debate on how stringent betting rules should be for players who work in an industry that is endemically tied to the world of betting and gambling, and in some quarters it will again open up the debate as to how much these players can earn, at such a young age, as they naturally thrill seek without any real consequence.